Over the years, Matt has helped many funeral directors navigate their way through the funeral home transaction and financing process. His direct experience working in funeral homes gives him an in-depth understanding of the day-to-day operations. In 2005, Matt founded www.4bsf.com to help educate funeral directors about buying, selling and financing.
How did you get into the funeral industry?
I worked my way through college living and working in funeral homes. I worked at two different large firms and then finished my master’s degree in accounting working for a smaller firm. My work experience taught me the value of funeral directors. And the value funeral service brings to families and communities. When I finished college, I followed my degree path and never thought I’d see a funeral home again except for attending a funeral service.
After two years with a CPA firm and eight years in medical sales, I decided to pursue other options. In 2004 I began working for a company doing funeral home acquisitions. And just like that I was back in the funeral industry. I learned the ins and outs of funeral home acquisitions and have worked for banks ever since.
What is BSF and how did it get started?
Funeral directors often have little or no experience in financial transactions. They are care givers by nature. This can leave them vulnerable to those who present themselves as industry experts and charge enormous fees to merely advise on a transaction. Browsing the internet is often no help because that’s how these advisors find new customers. There are always three parties to most transactions – buyer, seller, and lender. I’ve seen transactions where an advisor charges all three parties. To me, practices like these are simply unfair to buyers. Funeral directors need education and guidance on the risks involved with buying, selling and financing. I founded www.4bsf.com to help make the transaction process more transparent and less intimidating to buyers and sellers.
What is your favorite part about working in the industry?
Going through the transaction process with buyers trying to achieve ownership and establish themselves in the industry is very rewarding. I also enjoy seeing a seller reap the rewards of their life’s work. Seeing a new partnership develop between a buyer and seller. Seeing the seller feel good that they found the right buyer to hand the baton to.
Most funeral directors are very genuine people, so it’s pleasant to work with them on a day in, day out basis. I make a lot of good friends. I think it’s because of the types of people drawn to serve in the funeral industry. It’s unique. The people are passionate, and truly care about serving families in their community.
Looking forward to the future, what are you most excited about?
Cremation rates will continue to rise as different areas of the country embrace it. We will continue to see rapid change in traditional funerals. Volume will continue to rise with the passing of the baby Boomers. Transaction activity will stay strong over the next ten years and I’m looking forward to being a part of that. As a lending segment, the funeral industry is still not embraced by lenders as much as I think it should be. But there are more lenders serving the industry than in the past, and that competition is good for buyers.
When it comes to financing, what is your go to advice for funeral directors and funeral home owners?
First, call me or visit www.4bsf.com to learn about the ins and outs of funeral home transactions. The best advice I can offer a buyer is to take your time and talk directly with lenders. If the person you’re talking to is not an employee of a bank than move on. The best advice I can give to a seller is to talk with your accountant several years before you want to sell. Make sure your federal tax returns are showing your funeral home in the best possible light. Make sure you are planning for the sale before you get burned out. It will result in a much better transaction. And, be careful with any advisor offering you a fee contract. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
When you aren’t in the office, what are some things you like to do with your free time?
My wife and I have two kids, 16 and 12 so their activities keep us pretty busy. I love spending time with family, exercising, traveling, and playing a little golf now and then.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
The fact that I get to establish relationships that last. I get to serve some clients on multiple transactions. It feels good to play a small part in someone else’s success. I really enjoy looking at deals. And, because I work for a bank, I don’t have to charge someone a fee to do it. I think mostly I like the hunt of finding that next good deal with a buyer. FBA